The northern state of Punjab is the bread basket of India, accounting for almost the entire production of wheat in the country. Bordering the volatile country of Pakistan to the west and other Indian states to the east, south and north, Punjab is one of the most fertile states in India in terms of soil fertility. The people of Punjab will welcome you with open hands.
With huge areas of the state under cultivation, it provides for some scintillating visuals. The five rivers of the state give the tourists lot to cherish in terms of serene waters and stunning waterfalls. The lush green fields of wheat and maize that traverses the state give the tourist something to cherish and take back. Taking the train is something that a new comer shouldn't miss when it comes to Punjab.
The Indus Valley Civilization
Archaeologists have traced signs of life, in the area now known as Punjab, to as far back as the Indus valley civilization, around 5000 years ago. At its peak, the Indus Valley civilization boasted of splendid urban cities such as Harappa and Mohen-jo-daro.
The Aryan era
One of the reasons for the decline of the Indus Valley civilization was the migration of the Aryans from North-West Asia around 1500-100 BC. For the next thousand or so years, during the Aryan period, present-day Punjab was called Arya-varta (land of the Aryans). It is believed that it was during this period that the oldest of books, the Rig Vedas were written. Sanskrit, the Aryan tongue, became the symbol of their dominance in the region.
The Persian rule
Located at the outskirts of the great Persian Empire, Punjab came under frequent Persian attacks and was occupied by various Persian rulers from time to time. Though Darius the Great is believed to have occupied parts of the area, it was the Persian king Gustasp who in 516 BC completed the occupation of Punjab. In time, Punjab became one of the wealthiest satrapies (province) of the Persian Empire.
The Greek rule
The Greeks, the other great empire of the era, had some knowledge about Punjab. Several expeditions by Greek generals have documented the fertility and riches of the area. The region was described as the land of the five rivers. Greek maps also mention the existence of the mightiest river of all - the Indos (Indus), with its five tributaries.
In 321 BC Alexander the Great invaded Punjab, the last Persian Province. Most of the chieftains of the province submitted to Alexander's power without resistance. But Porus (Paurava), the king of Beteen, refused to submit to Alexander's authority. A historical battle was fought between the mighty Greek army and the small but determined army of Porus. In the end Porus lost and was captured and brought before Alexander. Here the legendary conversation took place when Alexander asked Porus how he should be treated. "The same way a king treats another king", said Porus. Struck by his courage and genius, Alexander not only returned his kingdom to Porus but also added to it the kingdoms of the chieftains who had submitted to Greek might.
After conquering the region, Alexander established two cities where he settled the people from his army. These cities thrived under the Indo-Greek rule, long after Alexander's departure. For the next two centuries, the Punjab region remained under Indo-Greek rule with dynasties like the Seleucid and Bactrian.
In the middle of the second century BC, the westward movement of the Chinese tribe of Yui Chi caused the Sakas (Scythians) to move towards Punjab. The Sakas successfully wrested power from the Indo-Greek rulers. Another Central Asian people to make the Punjab region their home were the White Huns, who after continuous campaigns in this region, finally established their rule in the later part of the 3rd century AD.
The Muslim invasions
Following the birth of Islam in Arabia in the 6th century AD, the Arabs rose to replace the Persians as the major power in the region. With their considerable power and influence, the Arabs advanced towards the land of the five rivers, already popular as a rich Persian province, and occupied the Multan region. Areas that survived the Arab attacks were divided into small kingdoms.
The various rulers of Ghazni attacked the Punjab region several times during their reign. After uprooting the Ghazni rulers, the Ghauris extended their kingdom as far as Delhi. Ghauri's governor, Qutbudin Aibak, annexed Punjab and founded the Mamluk Sultanate.
From the 13th to the 15th century AD, various dynasties controlled the northern parts of India including Punjab. These dynasties included the Khiljis, the Tughlaks, the Sayyids and the Lodhis. The rule of these dynasties was disrupted twice by the Mongols, who marched as far as Delhi.
The culture of Punjab has its own unique fragrance. It is unmatched. The scent of this fertile land is such in which the warmth of you-are-my-own is inborn. All communities hold pride in their traditions and the Punjabis whose open-mindedness has become proverbial also hold their unique tradition of hospitality high in their estimation as well as in their values of life. A guest in Punjab is considered as a representative sent by God.
Hospitality promotes brotherhood and holds a special significance for bringing people closer; love and kindness flow out of it. In Punjab they say that the more you love the more it multiplies and you get back many more times the kindness that you give.
The land of Punjab, which is described as the land of Gurus, Pirs and the warriors, as a matter of faith believes in earning honest living through hard labour and in sharing the fruits of this labour with others, without expecting any returns. Hospitality is a living aspect of Punjabi culture, which is shown even to the migratory birds that sojourn here.
Punjabis not only profess and practice hospitality in their own land but also carry it, untainted and virgin, to the lands where they immigrate. There is no country in the world where Punjabis have not created waves.
Hospitality binds people together in bonds of love; it increases circles of friendship and makes the atmosphere aglow with human warmth. Punjabis have proved this in all corners of the world in seemingly alien lands and because of these qualities they have been willingly accepted as useful, responsible citizens of the world, warm neighbours and good friends.
When the British landed in Punjab as victors they were astonished to find that every little village and every mohalla in the larger cities of Punjab had special places to receive and honour guests, and that the people of this land were irrepressible extroverts. The District Gazetteers of the time bring forth Punjab's generous hospitality in bold relief.
Although Punjab has received hospitality as God's gift, on account of recent disturbances and rising prices it is coming under strain in the towns and cities. However, in villages it still reigns supreme. It resides in the soul of rural folk. Reach a home in the middle of the night, the ladies will happily get up and cook fresh food for you. You can't pass by certain villages without enjoying hospitality. You'll be looked after so long as you stay. You will be warmly sent off, not empty-handed, but with a gift of whatever is available in the house.
Like all other human traits of the people of Punjab, their hospitality is also guileless, rare and intense. It is a ubiquitous theme of Punjabi folklore. When the crow, sitting atop the roof, crows, or dough when it is being kneaded bubbles, folk songs tell us that these are auspicious omens that mean a guest is on his way. There are several other sayings that speak of the pleasures derived by looking after visitors.
Good habitat, laughter, playfulness and love from the environment in which hospitality grows. May the culture of this blessed land of the five rivers perpetuate and ever grow
Country : India
Continent : Asia